Illini defeat Redbirds 3-2

By Claire O’Brien, Staff Writer

The Illinois soccer team defeated Illinois State 3-2 Sunday in Normal, Illinois. The Illini, fresh off a 0-3 loss to San Francisco, finished the first half in a 2-2 tie.

Last season, the Illini defeated the Redbirds 1-0; the two teams played most recently on March 30 with the game ending in a 1-1 tie.

The Illini got off to a fast start, with sophomore forward Makena Silber scoring the first goal at 1:09. Illinois State responded within minutes, with midfielder Katherine Felton scoring at 7:37. The Redbirds’ midfielder Kate Del Fava scored at 25:18, giving the Redbirds a 2-1 edge.

Junior midfielder Hope Breslin tied the game for the Illini on a penalty kick at 41:50. Within two minutes, at 43:08, Breslin got a yellow card, the team’s fourth of the season. The team previously had one against Pepperdine and two against San Francisco.

“It’s very mental, penalty kicks,” Breslin said. “Ever since I was younger, I loved taking penalty kicks, so just growing up with that mentality and staying calm, I just enjoy that.”

Scoring-wise, the second half was very quiet, with neither team scoring until the very end. Illinois State received two yellow cards in the second half. Defender Peyton Kennedy got Illinois State’s first yellow card of the night at 71:50, and defender Megan McEachern got the team’s second at 87:10.

Senior midfielder Arianna Veland scored on a penalty kick at 89:09, but Illinois State goalie Haley Smith got a red card at 89:40.

“We were obviously pretty motivated to finish the game,” Veland said. “After (the penalty kick) was over, I think we went into defensive mode, so we pulled people back, made adjustments and then just finished the game out.”

Head coach Janet Rayfield thought the team’s defensive adjustment from four in the back to three in the back made a difference in the second half.

“We changed our system a little bit,” Rayfield said. “In the second half especially, I thought we came together and were a little bit better in terms of our defensive shape, and some things like that. So certainly, I think our second half showed some progress on the things that we’ve been working on defensively.”

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